Live Review: August Burns Red, Alpha Wolf, Gravemind

14 October 2019 | 5:06 pm | Rod Whitfield

"[T]ighter than a clenched fist."

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Tonight we see the future of Australian heavy music, or at least one of several bands that will play a massive part in it. Their name is Gravemind. Only given a brief opening slot, they explode onto the stage with their best cut Volgin and barely let up for 25 minutes. That said, while their set is a barrage of brutality, their sound is dynamic at the same time, ebbing and flowing, pulling back into moments of dark ambience before assaulting the senses once again. Their three guitars are like a battering ram; drummer Karl Steller is a dazzlingly dextrous monster and frontman Dylan Gillies-Parsons, with his angst-ridden howls and intense presence, commands attention like few others.

Gravemind. Photos by Kikki MacLeod.

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Another eruption comes in the form of Melbourne’s Alpha Wolf, although this five-piece’s sound resides more in the ultra high energy, punky, hardcore end of the musical spectrum. These guys somehow manage to create music that is extraordinarily harsh and dissonant but highly listenable at the same time, with a stage show that is bulldozer-like in its aggression but also heaps of fun. Again, a short set allows this band to pour as much energy as humanly possible into around 30 minutes, and Alpha Wolf leave the sold-out crowd breathless and more than ready for the main band.

Alpha Wolf. Photos by Kikki MacLeod.

The shorter opening slots are no doubt to accommodate an epic headline set from America’s mighty August Burns Red. A decade and a half and eight albums into their career, this band could now be considered wily veterans of the metalcore scene. And their experience shows tonight, they are tighter than a clenched fist and make this power-packed performance look almost effortless. While they have so many albums to draw from, this tour is all about celebrating the decade anniversary of their breakthrough third album Constellations. They play the album track for track, end to end, and to say it is crowd-pleasing in this environment is an understatement. Large sections of the crowd, the ones not involved in the furious mosh anyway, sing along to every word of every song. They are songs delivered with maximum impact by a band at the very peak of their game.

August Burns Red @ 170 Russell. Photo by Kikki MacLeod.

Then, after no less than four encores, the band leave the stage and the sweaty throng shuffles out, devastated, exhausted but elated at having witnessed another stunning night of heavy music histrionics.